The Stillwater girls’ hockey team opened its season on Thursday with a 3-1 nonconference victory over 11th-ranked Blaine at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The Ponies (1-0), ranked No. 9 in the preseason state coaches poll, jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead and held on for the victory despite getting outshot 30-27.
Stillwater had too many Hannahs for the Bengals to handle, with senior Hannah Okerstrom and senior Hannah Heacox combining for all three goals.
Okerstrom scored on an assist from Heacox less than five minutes into the game to provide a 1-0 lead and Heacox followed six minutes later on assists by sophomore Sierra Smith and Okerstrom to build a two-goal cushion. The Ponies limited Blaine to just four shots on goal during the first period.
The Bengals (1-2), already playing in their third game this season, cut into the deficit in the second period with Amy Schlagel scoring on an assist by Katie Swanstrom at 7:52.
Blaine outshot the Ponies 13-7 in the third period, but junior goaltender Brianna Hersom was up to the task while maintaining Stillwater’s lead.
Okerstrom also provided some additional breathing room with a goal at 8:17 on a feed from Heacox. Hersom finished with 29 saves in the game.
The Ponies are slated to host Cloquet-Esko-Carlton in a nonconference game on Saturday at 3 p.m., and then travel to Aldrich Arena to face Hill-Murray on Nov. 24. The Pioneers ended Stillwater’s season in the section semis a year ago.
Blaine 0 1 0 — 1
Stillwater 2 0 1 — 3
First period — 1. St, Hannah Okerstrom (Hannah Heacox) 4:21; 2. St, Heacox (Sierra Smith, Okerstrom) 10:44.
Second period — 1. Bl, Amy Schlagel (Katie Swanstrom) 7:52.
Third period — 3. St, Okerstrom (Heacox) 8:17.
Penalties — Bl, 3-6:00; St, 3-6:00.
Saves — Bl (Courtney Jensrud) 8-9-7—24; St (Brianna Hersom) 5-11-13—29.